Love in Disguiseby Published 01 Jun 2012
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Delightfully Engaging Blend of Romance, Suspense, History, and Humor
When costume-maker Ellie Moore suddenly finds herself out of a job in the middle of a bleak Chicago winter, she uses her knowledge of theatrical disguise to secure a position as an undercover operative with the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Her assignment: find the culprit behind the theft of silver shipped from the mines near Pickford, Arizona. Disguised as Lavinia Stewart, a middle-aged widow, Ellie begins her investigation. Soon she finds she must also pose as the dazzling young Jessie Monroe, whose vivacious personality encourages people to talk.
Mine owner Steven Pierce is about to lose his business after the theft of several bullion shipments--until hope arrives in the unlikely form of Lavinia Stewart, who offers to invest in Steven's mine. In his wildest dreams, Steven never expected to be rescued by an inquisitive gray-haired widow . . . or to fall head over heels for Lavinia's captivating niece, Jessie. But then the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie. Ellie isn't safe no matter which character she plays! Will she be forced to reveal her true identity before the criminals are caught? What will Steven do when he discovers the woman he loves doesn't exist?
"Love in Disguise" Reviews
A fair reading but it wasn’t all that I expected.
GOD IS EVERYWHERE
I wasn’t sure what to expect about this novel on the angle of being “historical Christian romance”, due the “Christian” part of the genre. I am a religious person, but I don’t think that we should bother the Almighty for anything or even mentioned him if you really don’t need him at that moment. But, I didn’t mind all the kinda forced-in comments and references to Bible, church, God, etc...
Since while I certainly I am very open minded about doubts in the men-managed religious institutions, but I am aware that I do mind whenever comment about not believing in God, in any kind of form of higher power of your preference. I am aware that I do mind comments about total atheists, since while I think that people can live without religions, I can’t conceive how not living without the faith in God, any form of your preference of the concept.
So, now I know how that kind of things are managed in this kind of novels, so it was a good experience, since while kinda forced in some moments during the narrative, there isn’t anything wrong to pray and/or just “speak” to God. Honestly, I feel more alienated (even at least for a moment) when I found a comment about a character in a novel telling that they don’t believe in any kind of God.
The premise of the novel is really good since it’s about a young woman that after losing her job in the theater business in Chicago, in the ends of 1881, she is forced to engage into a kind of job that she didn’t think that it would be in her future, on earlies 1882, she convinced to the bosses of a local office of the Pinkerton Agency, that she would be able to be a valuable asset to them as an undercover agent in a dangerous case in the middle of the Wild West, in the territory of Arizona.
The lead female character is forced to use all her theatrical skills in acting but even more vital in disguising and make-up, to perform two different characters during the investgation. She has to look as an older widow and her young provocative niece. Both characterizations are challenges to her since, while the young niece is of her own age, the “niece” should be a kind of woman that she never has been, and even look sexier than she ever thought possible to be herself.
She needs to live in Pickford, a Wild West town, in the Arizona territory, to investigate the case of a unknown band of robbers whom has been attacking silver lingots deliveries made by a local community of mine owners. However, since the possibility that there must have an “inside job” involved, while the mine owners are the ones who hire the services of the Pinkerton Agency, she must keep her true identity as a secret even from the mine owners.
Keeping the secret even from Steven Pierce, a young noble man, owner of one of the mines, that she is starting to fall in love with him.
NOT THE FINAL ACT AS I EXPECTED
Without doing any spoiler, I will do my best to explain my dissapointments on the final part of the novel that I think it was been developed in a very fair way.
Ellie Moore, unemployed theater girl with skills on acting, costume making, and make-up, she is forced to convince to the people of a Pinkerton Agency, that she would be able to take a dangerous case in the Wild West to uncover a band of silver lingots’ robbers.
To do that, Ellie Moore should disguise herself into two different characters: The old widow Lavinia Stewart, and her young niece Jessie Monroe, and she isn’t as any of the two characters, curiously enough, her personality is kinda more related to the old widow than the young attractive girl.
It was interesting the challenge of a young woman without experience in detective work, trying to uncover a band of robbers. However, while I was aware that she wasn’t an experienced investigator, I expected that she would develop a fair amount to skill in the process and even have some glimpses of intuity about it.
Sadly, I think that she isn’t able to deduce anything and basically all the case is almost served to her on a silver tray (pun intended), even the very villains explaining to her, why and how they were doing the robberies.
Therefore, while she is quite able to fool everybody in the town and to perform with success two different characters to make her investigation, once we reached the point of solving the case, well, I expected some hints of brilliant deducing, the proper analysis of clues, but that just didn't happened.
However, I enjoyed fair enough the reading in a general sense, but certainly in the particular angle as a detective novel, it was certainly weak in that area.
GENRE: HISTORICAL ROMANCE
PUBLISHER: BETHANY HOUSE
PUBLICATION DATE: JUNE 01, 2012
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 – EXCELLENT
PROS: Plot is entirely original and unlike anything already present in the genre; perfect blend of romance and mystery
CONS: Spiritual sections felt disjointed and didn’t add much to the story
When Ellie Moore finds herself alone and jobless in Chicago after spending her whole life working for the theatre, she has no idea where to look for work. All she has is a trunk full of costumes and her skill at putting together an outfit. When she overhears two men discussing their need for a new female operative for their detective agency, Ellie can’t help but wonder whether her knowledge of costumes and disguises might be able to help her gain such a position. After much convincing and a new persona as the elderly Aunt Livinia, Ellie makes her way to the small town of Pickford, Arizona, where she is to meet an experienced detective who is to play the part of her niece, and help her catch the thieves who are stealing silver from the nearby mines. But along the way, Ellie receives news that her partner is unable to make it to Pickford. Desperate for work, Ellie decides to continue on to Arizona and solve this mystery on her own. But as endearing as Livinia is, she isn’t able to make the right people talk. Ellie really needs someone to play the part of Jessie, the attractive and flirtatious niece of Livinia. She couldn’t play both parts...could she? With all the effort of keeping track of her two personas, Ellie finds herself becoming more confused about who she really is, especially when Jessie catches the eye of handsome mine-owner, Steven Pierce. Between balancing the two characters of Livinia and Jessie and attempting to catch the silver thieves, Ellie may just have forgotten to guard her heart against potential suitors...
The common thread that I’ve spotted in reviews of this book is that it is a lot of fun to read, and I completely agree with that sentiment. The premise of Ellie switching between two different personas in order to solve a crime not only made for an original and compelling story, but also a very entertaining one. It was the premise of the novel that drew me to Love in Disguise in the first place and it definitely lived up to my expectations. While there’s a mystery running through the entire book and a sweet, if slow to develop, romance between Ellie and Steven, it was Ellie’s character-switching that kept me reading. Could she really keep her ruse up? Would she ever forget which character she was playing? Would anyone figure out that neither Livinia nor Jessie existed? Not only did this situation create a fair amount of suspense, it was also pretty amusing to read about Ellie’s attempts to play two entirely different characters. I found myself grinning and giggling at several points throughout the story, and it was very sad to say goodbye to these characters – not just Ellie, but also Livinia and Jessie, who almost seemed as real as Ellie.
Unlike some historical novels that contain a hint of mystery, I didn’t solve the mystery before the protagonist. But I wasn’t at all disappointed at this. Ultimately, I just wanted Ellie to catch the thieves and prove that she could be a good detective; I didn’t really mind who ended up being cast in the role of the bad guys! But although the mystery wasn’t always at the forefront of my mind while I was reading this novel, I did appreciate the climatic ending. It was nice to see Ellie using the wits that she had developed over the course of the story, and a couple of hints that had been dropped earlier in the novel finally made sense and aided the characters as they apprehended the thieves. Fans of romantic suspense and mysteries may be disappointed that Ellie’s attempts to catch the thieves aren’t as developed as they would be in a pure mystery novel, but I felt that Love in Disguise had the perfect blend of history, mystery and romance to keep fans of all three genres entertained.
The romantic element to Love on Disguise wasn’t as central as I thought it would be, considering that the word “love” is in the title, but the slow progression of Ellie and Steven’s relationship seemed appropriate for their situations. Steven was preoccupied with protecting the interests of his mine and Ellie was too wrapped up in being both Livinia and Jessie to consider the possibility of her connection with Steven turning into something more serious. I found Ellie’s reaction when she realised that Steven was falling for Jessie to be very realistic. Her dilemma over whether she was leading Steven on and whether it was fair to continue spending time with him was very heart-felt. Did he really love her, underneath her disguise? Or would he be disappointed once she took off her wig and revealed how different she was from Jessie? Even if Ellie’s situation in this book was entirely fanciful, the “Does he really like me for who I am inside?” issue is one that any woman can relate to.
I came very close to giving this novel full marks: I loved the concept, the characters, the suspense and the romance. But what holds me back from giving Love in Disguise five stars is the spiritual aspect of the novel. While I liked Ellie’s commentary on her church experiences and her reception of the pastor’s sermons, some of the other scenes that were intended the show the development of Ellie’s relationship with Jesus just didn’t flow with the rest of the novel. The one where she devoted her life to Jesus seemed to almost come out of nowhere, and I wished there had been more development on Ellie’s spiritual life. She seemed to have almost no concept of faith at the start of the book, and while there was a smattering of comments on her growing relationship with God over the course of the book, it wasn’t enough to convince me that Ellie had suddenly come to a complete understanding of God’s love for her by the end of the novel. The spiritual sections of the novel were so brief that they could easily have been removed entirely from the novel and not changed the flow of the story. While I do think that the spiritual elements of Love in Disguise could have worked if they had been better integrated into the main storyline, I couldn’t help but wonder if by choosing to write a salvation plot into the story, Carol had missed out on the great possibility for exploring the struggles that a Christian detective faces in having to lie and deceive others as part of their work. That is a story that I’d definitely like to read.
Although I wasn’t entirely convinced by the spiritual aspects of Love in Disguise, I didn’t find fault with any other aspect of the novel. From start to finish, this book had me hooked and I hated having to put it down for any reason. Not only does Love in Disguise contain the perfect blend of character development, mystery and romance, it’s also entirely original and unlike anything I’ve come across in this genre. And although I appreciated the originality of Love in Disguise, I can’t help but hope that Carol gets the chance to write another novel about a female detective. If she does, you can be certain that I’ll be one of the first to get my hands on it.
Review title provided by Bethany House.
In this exciting tale, Ellie Moore aspires to be an actress, but makes her living as the wardrobe mistress to a self-serving theatrical performer. Then suddenly, she finds herself unemployed when the actress leaves for Europe. Alone in the world and desperate for any job, she used her knowledge of the theater and disguises to work for the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Assigned to investigate the theft of silver ingots from several mines, Ellie, as an undercover agent, is soon targeted for trouble. Handsome mine owner Steven Pierce adds a bit of romantic interest for Ellie. But he doesn’t know the real Ellie, and after playacting in real life, is Ellie even sure who she really is? With a clever plot and well developed characters, this tale is entertaining as well as inspirational.
Ellie Moore finds herself down to her last pennies and out of a job. In desperation, she seeks a job with the Pinkerton Agency. The only reason they hire her is because of her acting ability. When things quickly go wrong on her first assignment, Ellie's only course of action is to rely on her acting skills and play the roles of both elderly widow and her beautiful, vivacious niece. Steven Pierce is one of the mine owners who have asked the Pinkertons to come and investigate into the silver robberies the owners have been facing. He didn't expect to find a friend in Lavinia or fall for her beautiful niece, Jessie. When the thieves come after both Lavinia and Jessie, Ellie finds herself depending on Steven. What will happen to their budding love when she's got the case wrapped up? Or will she decide that it's time to take on the role she was born to play - that of herself?
This is the first book I've read by Carol Cox. I found that it started out a little slow, but then as the story moved along, it became quite entertaining. I really liked seeing how Ellie managed both roles. But in the process of that, she also found out who she really was and the importance of integrity. I also really liked how Steven was a man who wanted justice done. He'd also protect the people who managed to put themselves in danger. Overall, this was a really pretty good book.
I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for the purpose of reviewing. My thoughts and opinions are my own.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes a light-hearted mystery, Mary Connealy fans, and those looking for adventure in the Wild West.
Rating - 4 stars
Ellie Moore is desperate to find a new job—any job—after the actress she has worked for heads to Europe without her. Left with her few possessions and a basket full of costumes she finagles her way into a job as a Pinkerton Agent. Using her acting skill, she creates not one but two characters to roam the streets of Pickford Arizona to gather clues on who is robbing the silver mines. Stephen Pierce and the other miners are desperate to find out who is leaking information to the thieves highjacking the silver shipments. Widow Lavinia Stewart’s arrival may be the answer to his financial dilemma while her niece Jessie may succeed in stealing his heart. Both women intrigue him and set the town a buzz with their arrival.
This fun, fascinating historical novel takes the reader on Ellie Moore’s adventure as a Pinkerton agent. The Pinkerton detectives were often called in to investigate a crime when the local law was unable to crack the case. Quiet observation and keeping a low profile made these detectives the best in the nation. Women agents often succeeded in gleaning needed intel where men failed because no one imagined a woman capable of being a detective.
I love the idea of a woman from the theater world becoming an operative. Surprising to think of the possibilities of this kind of charade in the 1800s. The book is well-researched, and the scenario is very convincing. There is just the right amount of humor and action to keep the reader turning pages. The author shows us how Ellie grows in her faith without preaching at us. A must-read for historical, mystery, and romance readers alike.